A trio of candidates in the May 5 Killeen council and mayoral elections railed against extending more benefits to Killeen City Manager Ron Olson at the City Council’s regular meeting Tuesday.

Killeen at-large council candidates Mellisa Brown and Leo Gukeisen and mayoral candidate Arturo Cortez said an addendum to Olson’s contract giving him an additional $4,000 a year in deferred compensation and two extra weeks of vacation was too steep a price for the city’s head administrator.

Olson receives $225,000 in annual salary, with $18,000 in deferred compensation. The addendum will give Olson six weeks of vacation a year.

“We do not have to do this,” Cortez said. “This is being done without the citizens of Killeen knowing what is going on.”

Council members met in closed session March 20 to evaluate Olson’s first year on the job and settle on his new benefits package. As part of Olson’s contract terms, all annual reviews are performed in closed session.

Similar closed reviews are performed for other council-appointed positions such as the city auditor and municipal judge.

Following that meeting, the council issued a unanimous “excellent” review of Olson’s performance.

Olson, 68, was hired in February 2017 with 38 years of city management experience. He previously served as city manager of Corpus Christi. He also held executive posts in Middletown, Ohio; Belding, Mich.; West Jordan, Utah; and served as deputy city manager of Arlington.

Cortez, who took the podium after Gukeisen, was asked to leave the council chambers by a Killeen police officer after loudly interrupting Mayor Pro Tem Jim Kilpatrick, who argued Olson’s benefits increase was in line with his experience and performance.”

“He is due compensation for his performance,” Kilpatrick said. “I take it as offensive when one or two people tell us what we should not be doing when we put our trust in the person who is operating this city.”

The council voted 4-2 to approve Olson’s contract addendum, with Councilmen Gregory Johnson and Steve Harris voting against. Councilwoman Shirley Fleming was not in attendance.

Kilpatrick and council members Jonathan Okray, Juan Rivera and Debbie Nash-King voted in approval.

“I do think this city manager has done a great job,” Johnson said before the vote. “However, I don’t think any city employee should make over $200,000.”

Also on Tuesday, the council accepted a “clean” and unmodified annual audit report from the Houston-based Belt Harris Pechacek accounting firm.

Belt Harris Pechacek, hired by the city Aug. 8, was paid $127,450 for the fiscal year 2017 audit with another guaranteed year on its contract.

Robert Harris, a partner with the firm, applauded the city administration’s cooperation and financial preparation March 20 and said the results showed strong controls.

“For a city this size, this is probably the lowest amount of alterations we’ve had to make to any audit all year,” he said.

Although the city has received a slate of “clean” external audits for years, the federally mandated annual reviews are limited in scope and insight.

Because an annual audit is not forensic in nature and only examines the city’s financial framework in a given fiscal year, routine audits presented the city’s finances as stable and did not address signs of distress in recent years.

By federal law, cities’ comprehensive annual financial reports produced each fiscal year must be audited by an outside accounting firm for compliance with Governmental Accounting Standards Board requirements. The central aspect of the review is “material weakness,” or a given municipality’s lack of adherence to internal and GASB standards.

kyleb@kdhnews.com | 254-501-7567

(6) comments

Alvin

This is the personal opinion of this writer.

Well I just finished watching the 'Dog and Pony Show' that 'explains what went in to the uplift of the city manager and quite frankly, 'I still don't know what city manager's starting pay including all of the incentives, any mid point salary adjustments, and now the final tabulation of what this city council, all 4 of them, voted, which constitutes a simple majority which is enough to carry forward this city council and this exorbitant salary increase. So if someone would consider sharing just what this city manager's starting, midpoint if applicable and final one year on the job totals, it would sure be appreciated because there is not enough worthwhile informational flow originating in this city administration.

The Mayor Pro Tem, Kilparick, was just on indicating 'why he thought this city manager deserved the enormous kick back that he was given', IE: in an additional 2 weeks of vacation amounting to 6 full weeks, the additional $4,000 dollars in 'deferred compensation' and the amount of $225,000 in salary. Most company's that I have been associated with you start of with 2 weeks, then after 5 years, you get an additional week to 3 weeks, then at 10 years you get 4 weeks, and you don't ever realize 6 weeks except in rare occasions. The 'deferred compensation' is one that is basically reserved for CEO's and it in the form of stock. Does this city have any stock options for this city to take???? It is then a matter of 'cash' with which this city manager can and should be required to draw from.

This gives us another cash flow problem in the fact that this city may not have the cash available.

Getting back to Mayor Pro Te, Kilpatrick and his reasoning for the methods that was chosen to 'give this excellence portrayal of his performance on the job. Apparently he does not 'remember' all of the flubs that were made in his performance of his job and I refer to the 'shredding of documents may or may not had a bearing on the outcome of this city audit, nor the fact that central files, which it turned out was not so central at all and apparently files and documents 'got lost' which did nothing for the outcome of the audit, and on and on.

Look at what transpired with the city hall, from being condemned as to the load carrying capacity and closing off a portion of the 2nd and 3rd floors to reoccupying this structure, to 'enhancing the council chambers even though this building may come crashing down because of the fact that 'this was originally a school building, not a city hall.

I just wish the Mayor Pro Tem, Kilpatrick would be, for the first time, honest and forthright in telling the citizens of Killeen just what the motivating factor was.

This has been the personal opinion of this writer and nothing shall be used, in context or without or changed in any way without first notifying, and receiving explicit approval from this writer.
One of the 4.58 % who voted.

Alvin

This is the personal opinion of this writer.

@Pete: From what I remember from just a year ago, the city manager's salary was capped, all toll, at $171,000, that was including his moving allowance. Now a little less than a year has elapsed and now his salary is being moved to $247,000 dollars. But that is the way our 'closed system seems to be working, they just don't feel that you have any need to know in our 'transparent system'. Pretty soon he will be paid like a football star in the millions, and I guess our city council, the 4 of them, will consider 'he's worth every penny and he gets umpteen weeks off for vacation'. If you consider that this town has a polulation of somewhere between 130,000 and 150,000 and just these 4 individuals control this town. Something is deffinately wrong with this picture.

This has been the personal opinion of this writer and nothing shall be used, in context or without or changed in any way without first notifying, and receiving explicit approval from this writer.
One of the 4.58 % who voted.

THUGNIFICENT KILLED ME

Hu$h lil darlin', don't you $pill the bean$. Hu$h lil darlin', KING of KILLzone gonna make $ure we all get paid, $o we $end you a love offering to make $ure our $ecret$ are $afe.

Pete

So a little arithmetic says this raise is better than 5.7%. $4,000 + 8,653 = 12,653/$225,000 = 5.7%. Pretty darn good deal.

I ask where in Killeen are citizens getting a 5.7% compensation increase?

Heck city employees aren't even getting that much.

So the modern version of leadership - tell folks its raining while you pee on their pants instead of providing an example - no more compensation than the average city employee gets or better yet a compensation increase commensurate with what the citizenry is getting.

The citizens are getting 5.7% increase too though - to property tax appraisals, trash bills, city fees and fines and a whole host of other increases to their cost of living,

Alvin

This is the personal opinion of this writer.

@Pharon Enochs: Job well done in this presentation and I agree.

Copy: 'Council members met in closed session March 20 to evaluate Olson’s first year on the job and settle on his new benefits package. As part of Olson’s contract terms, all annual reviews are performed in closed session.' End of copy.

And the meeting(s) in which the city council and mayor negotiated his contract was also done 'behind closed doors in secret session'. This should not be..... This city should have some say in who's getting what position and the salary for this individual. For years now this city has been getting away with withholding contractual obligations until it's an over and done with deal.

If this is not spelled out in the city charter, I suggest this council get on the stick 'and make it so'.

Copy: “We do not have to do this,” Cortez said. “This is being done without the citizens of Killeen knowing what is going on.” End of copy.

Again, this needs to straightened out, whatever it takes. The people of Killeen need to stop just 'accepting everything the mayor, city council, and city manager says. We need a completely transparent city administration.

If city manager Olsen has it in writing that he will get secret sessions, then this city council needs to draft legislation declaring his contract 'null and void' and offer him a new contract without this stipulation. Now I know the Legal arm is going to say, 'it can't be done', but as with everything else that it is said, 'it can't be done' when it can.

Who in the world voted for giving him this exorbitant amount in the first place???? What are the names of said individuals???? It should not be said that 'this council voted in secrecy to award this city manager any money without the names of the individuals being publicized. That ain't the way the game is supposed to be played. It's the same as with all of the other 'secret meetings' that are not publicized nor minutes being taken. It's like the city council meetings that are not publicized and minutes being taken.

We need a completely transparent city administration.


Copy: 'Following that meeting, the council issued a unanimous “excellent” review of Olson’s performance.' End of copy.

Was this 'vote of excellence' performed in the 'secret session and just broadcast that this was so, or was it an oral vote, by city council persons with a tabulated vote???? In my opinion, there should have been a 'vote of excellence' in that this city manager did not do the job that was expected of him in that the person on the city administration that succeeded in shredding documents that perhaps could have been important to the audit, a condition that we will never experience, the person that delayed the audit for a number of weeks, and did not perform the duties of a legal arm in cataloging and filing city documentation. This has been brought up before to apparently no avail. So in this instance the city manage has not been responsible for management of subordinates and how other instances has he delinquent in the performance of his duties???? Where was 'the performance of duty' as outlined above???? Is this going to be 'another instance of the past city manager' and the performance of his duty???? Seems like we're falling in line for another episode of continuous disclaimers.
So no I do not agree with the handing out of a 'vote of excellence' when the job was not completed and certainly should not be given the raise, the additional 2 weeks of vacation, and the additional $4,000 dollars in deferred compensation, in fact he should not get what amounts to additional money because, 'he did not do a superior job to begin with'.

Copy: 'Cortez, who took the podium after Gukeisen, was asked to leave the council chambers by a Killeen police officer after loudly interrupting Mayor Pro Tem Jim Kilpatrick, who argued Olson’s benefits increase was in line with his experience and performance.” End of copy.

I can see why 'Cortez loudly interrupted' because he has a good and valid point in arguing that Olsen's job performance was in line with his experience and performance noting that if Mayor Pro Tem, Kilpatrick indicated he thought his performance was of 'excellence portrayal of a city manager'.

This is 'another mark against the Mayor Pro Tem Jim Kilpatrick.

Copy: “He is due compensation for his performance,” Kilpatrick said. “I take it as offensive when one or two people tell us what we should not be doing when we put our trust in the person who is operating this city.” End of copy.

Here again Kilpatrick should not take offense to anything as he voted in secrecy in which the citizens were not informed nor given a vote as to transpired. And councilman Kilpatrick you can now say that I am number 3 and how many others will say the same thing???? As I have said before, the citizen should have a say, and a vote, when it comes to 'dolling out money like this'. This should be voted on. Here is another example of how deliquent this city has become and I am of the opinion that this should be corrected.

Copy: 'The council voted 4-2 to approve Olson’s contract addendum, with Councilmen Gregory Johnson and Steve Harris voting against. Councilwoman Shirley Fleming was not in attendance.' End of copy.

So with this vote, we have the same 4 vote quorum that is always in concert, namely Kilpatrick, Okray, Nash, and Rivera. Doesn't anyone find this akin to 'a fix' wen the same 4 always vote in this manner. This is another example of why I thought the city manager had a good thought when he mentioned the super majority, a 6 to 1 vote for any position, memorandum, call for a vote, or anything of any significant nature with the 'secrecy' aspect of any city council meeting.

Copy: “I do think this city manager has done a great job,” Johnson said before the vote. “However, I don’t think any city employee should make over $200,000.” End of copy.

Well councilman Johnson, I do not agree with his performance relating to his job skills, but I agree that 'no city employee should not be making over $200,000 dollars especially when the bulk of the citizens are scraping by on approximately $30,000 dollars. There seems to be a little inequality there.

Copy: 'Although the city has received a slate of “clean” external audits for years, the federally mandated annual reviews are limited in scope and insight.'

Continuation of copy: 'Because an annual audit is not forensic in nature and only examines the city’s financial framework in a given fiscal year, routine audits presented the city’s finances as stable and did not address signs of distress in recent years.'

Continuation of copy: 'By federal law, cities’ comprehensive annual financial reports produced each fiscal year must be audited by an outside accounting firm for compliance with Governmental Accounting Standards Board requirements. The central aspect of the review is “material weakness,” or a given municipality’s lack of adherence to internal and GASB standards.' End of copy.

Now what was just said, 'that if we did not have a foresnic audit, that only the city's financial framework was examined and did not address signs of distress, and by frederal law city must conduct annual financial reports, but do not a review of 'material weakness'. Seems like this is a repeat of past years when they just gave a report, but did not report on anything of consequence, and of course 'we paid for it'. I would much rather pay someone to do a comprehensive audit in which the nuts and bolts of this city were examined rather than what, in my opin is just a waste of the taxpayers money'.

But we paid almost $400,000 dollars for a not so comprehensive financial picture, in which all of the supporting documentation was not found and did include some documentation that was shredded so as to not be available, and nobody thought a thing in the world about it, in fact this city council awarded a 'vote of excellance' as to this venture.

What a way to go.

Now I wonder if this presentation will ever be printed as it goes in fact deter to the way this city operates. How about it Killeen Daily Herald, is this going to show up in your news paper????

This has been the personal opinion of this writer and nothing shall be used, in context or without or changed in any way without first notifying, and receiving explicit approval from this writer.
One of the 4.58 % who voted.

Pharon Enochs

The following comments are indeed the opinions of Pharon Enochs WoW !!!! A council member gets a little nasty when he thinks one or two people question the action taken by the council. The way he counts I can see why the city's budget was in a mess and by all indications the free spending of tax payer's money. It appears to me two council members voted no on the vote. By my count that would be four. If this council member who take the time to get the pulse of the public he would find out there are way more than one or two people who feel the city manager is being paid a very handsome sum to do his job. He had the benefit of an audit to point out short comings with the city of Killeen which were created by council members and other city employees . He may have taken other actions as well of his own but he was only doing his job. Perhaps if former city councils had done their jobs as well the city would not be on it's knees with money issues and what appears to me to be unethical conduct. The base salary for the city manager which I felt was too big a price at the time, would be adequate compensation for his experience, knowledge and education. He negotiated and got more than the city was at first willing to pay Correct me if I am wrong but was it not the city council who continued to hire, appoint and pay individuals a rather tidy sum to be the city manager although they had never held such a position before, had lack of knowledge of the job and most did not have the education or training to hold the position. So perhaps the city council should look into a mirror and see who caused these problems in the first place. It seems to me the city council members with some exceptions go about their merry way having little or no regard of the wants and needs of the public as a whole. It appears to me their main concerns is power and their self serving personal needs and wants at the expense of the citizens. I am hopeful eventually the citizens will get tired of a dysfunctional group and clean house. The only way this can be done is for folks to review the facts, look at each council members voting record and how they address issues at council meetings and with the media then get out and vote. A word of caution, what they say they will do and what thy actually do might be a good indicator when it is time to vote. I may be remiss in saying this but I would surmise if the city manager was offered a lucrative job offer he would be out of "our" city before most folks would know he was gone so trying to entice him to stay with trinkets and beads is a joke. God bless America, President Trump and John Wayne wherever he may be.

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